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The untold story of the 1971 women’s World Cup is the subject of a new film

The landmark football tournament – which drew the ire of FIFA – had all but been erased from history, until now.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

Copa 71 is a new documentary shining a light on the second women’s football World Cup – an epoch-making event that had almost been written out of the history books, despite attracting a huge audience at the time, the BBC reports.

The film tells the stories of women from different countries who participated in the unofficial tournament, held in Mexico in 1971. 

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Co-director Rachel Ramsay said Copa 71 gives its audience a glimpse of a “parallel universe” where women’s football had not been suppressed. It includes rare footage of matches that football’s global governing body, FIFA, tried to prevent from happening.

“When we started researching the story and started speaking to the women, you realise that they have so much to say, and that they’ve had their voices taken away from them for 50 years,” Ramsay told the BBC. All of the women recount experiences of being told football was not a game for girls. 

US tennis legend Serena Williams narrates the film’s opening. She and her sister, Venus, are among the executive producers of Copa 71.

According to Ramsay, the pair – two of the most successful female athletes of all time – are “heavily involved in activism and in wanting to promote stories which deepen our understanding of the history of women’s sport.”

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“We hope that this film is the start of a whole genre of women’s sports films,” Ramsay told the British public broadcaster. “Because when we started making this, it was very hard to find comparisons, to find other films that were similar, especially films told from the perspective of women [who are now] in their 70s.

The first unofficial women’s football World Cup took place in Italy in 1970. The first official FIFA Women’s World Cup wasn’t held until 1991, taking place in China.

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